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holman prize for blind ambition

Announcing the 2018 Holman Prize Finalists

Grid of photos of the 2018 Holman Prize Finalists


Last year, we started the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, a set of annual awards of up to $25,000 each for legally blind individuals with big ideas. In our second year, we received video applications from all over the world – including nine more countries we hadn’t heard from last year – all fascinating and compelling in their own rite. The Holman Team narrowed the pool to 42 semifinalists, all of whom submitted detailed proposals mapping out their dream projects.

This week, we’re proud to announce our elite group of fourteen finalists, including a “People’s Choice” finalist who we honor for receiving the highest number of YouTube ‘likes’ for his ambitious idea. These finalists will all be in the running to make their ambitions a reality when our Holman Committee meets in San Francisco this June.

The fourteen finalists are as diverse and dynamic a group as you could imagine, including those who want to give back to their communities, those who seek to push the boundaries of science and tech, and those with infectious enthusiasm for a particular or unexpected craft.

Over the next month, we hope you’ll sound off on which Holman Prize candidate you want to see take their ambitions on the road. Feel free to tag Holman Prize on TwitterInstagram and head to the LightHouse’s Facebook page for more updates.

Meet our 2018 finalists below: 

Becky Andrews

Bountiful, Utah, USA
Becky, a marathon runner and cyclist, would use the Holman Prize to implement a series of empowerment retreats for blind and visually-impaired women.

Zeljko Bajic

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Zeljko, a radio producer and host, would use the Holman Prize to create a podcast “for and about blind people living all over the world.”

Luanne Burke

Boulder, Colorado, USA

Luanne, a seasoned long-distance runner, would use the Holman Prize to educate visually-impaired communities around the world about the joys and logistics of guided running.

Stacy Cervenka

Sacramento, California, USA

Stacy, who works in the disability employment field, would use the Holman Prize to launch an accessible travel forum similar to Yelp or TripAdvisor, geared specifically towards helping blind users optimize their trips around the world.

Leona Godin

Castle Rock, Colorado, USA

Leona, an actor and writer, would use the Holman Prize to expand her magazine “Aromatica Poetica,” which is “dedicated to the arts and sciences” of smell. Furthermore, she would use the prize money to fund her own prize, geared in part towards visually-impaired writers.

Carol Green

Kirtland, New Mexico, USA

Having recently developed a braille code for the Navajo language, Carol would use the Holman Prize to launch a summer program to educate and share the code across the Navajo Nation. Her proposal also includes tactile interpretation of landscapes and critical features of the nation’s geography.

Andrew Hasley

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Andrew, a biologist and geneticist, would use the Holman Prize to facilitate a conference for blind scientists and students from across the globe, called “Sciencing While Blind,” where participants could network and exchange tips and tools.

Conchita Hernandez

Washington, DC, USA

Conchita, who is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Special Education, would use the Holman Prize to create a workshop in her native Mexico for professionals in the blindness field, and blind people of all ages.

Georgina Hollinshead

Matlock, Derbyshire, UK

Georgina, who says she was “born a crafter,” would use the Holman Prize to launch a social enterprise called Hook and Eye Crafts, geared toward teaching blind and visually impaired people the joys of knitting, crochet and cross-stitch.

Alieu Jaiteh

Banjul, Serrekunda, Gambia

Alieu, the founder of the blindness advocacy organization Start Now, would use the Holman Prize to provide various skills, including computer literacy, cane travel and Braille, to blind and low-vision participants in rural Gambia.

Sandeep Kumar

*People’s Choice Finalist*

Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Sandeep, who has developed a tool called Eye Renk, which allows the visually impaired to easily differentiate between various ocular medications, would use the Holman Prize to build a lab for further development of Eye Rank and other technologies for the visually impaired.

Ambrose Kiplangat Lasoy

Rift Valley Province, Kenya

Kiplangat would use the Holman Prize to develop a program to enable his fellow blind and low-vision Kenyans to become dairy farmers and entrepreneurs.

Aishwarya T.V.

Secunderabad, Telangana, India

Aishwarya, a filmmaker and rehabilitation counselor, would use the Holman Prize to create a training center for the blind and low-vision community to study elements of filmmaking like script writing, film editing, sound mixing, production and more.

Red Szell

London, UK

Red, an extreme sports enthusiast, would use the Holman Prize to undertake an extreme sports triathlon to conquer Am Buachaille, one of the most remote rock pinnacles at the Northwest tip of the United Kingdom.

Learn more about the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition at www.holmanprize.org.

Meet the blind judges who will select the 2018 Holman Prizewinners

In its second year, the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition received almost one hundred applications from 19 countries and 22 American states. The semifinalists’ proposed projects are extraordinary – including bringing beep baseball to Argentina, creating the world’s first tactile Escape Room, launching a magazine dedicated to the art and science of smell and empowering people who are blind in rural Gambia. It won’t be an easy task to choose he three 2018 prizewinners from such a strong and diverse group.

The Holman Team is in the process of selecting finalists for the judging committee to select from, but in the meantime, we invite you to peruse the whole group of semifinalists’ Holman Prize submission videos to experience the diversity of people and proposals in the field.

In just a few weeks, we’ll welcome our judges in San Francisco to review the finalists’ proposals and select the 2018 Holman prizewinners. Learn more about the judges below and stay tuned for a forthcoming announcement of our elite group of Holman Prize Finalists.

Bryan Bashin Headshot

Bryan Bashin, CEO at the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco since 2010.

Don Brown Headshot

Don Brown, CEO of Access Work Systems, a HR compliance Management consulting firm, which he founded in 2000.

Dr. Wendy David headshot

Dr. Wendy David, licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Seattle and published author of books including, “Sites Unseen: Traveling the World without Sight.”

Chancey Fleet Headshot

Chancey Fleet, assistive technology coordinator at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library at New York Public Library.

Aerial Gilbert headshot

Aerial Gilbert, former outreach manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. She is also an avid rower and has competed in the adaptive division of the World Rowing Championships.

Rosa Gomez, assistant deputy director of the Specialized Services Division of the California State Department of Rehabilitation.

Anil Lewis headshot

Anil Lewis, executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Brian Miller Headshot

Dr. Brian Miller, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington D.C.

Dr. Sile O'Modhrain Headshot

Dr. Sile O’Modhrain, professor in performing arts technology at the school of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan.

Jason Roberts Headshot

Jason Roberts, an accomplished author, Roberts’ wrote “A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler,” about the intrepid blind traveler (and namesake of this prize) James Holman.

Dr. Sharon Sacks headshot

Dr. Sharon Sacks, former superintendent of the California School for the Blind. Sacks recently retired.

Victor Tsaran headshot

Victor Tsaran, technical program manager at Google, helping to make Android accessible for all.

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen

Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen, associate professor in the Department of English at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Gary Wunder Headshot

Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri and the editor of the Braille Monitor.